I had written this in November, 2009. -Rafi
It’s a tough world. People are losing their jobs and therefore their independence. In the case of “being in the Parsha,” in many cases the right girl or guy doesn’t come along soon enough. There’s also a scary epidemic called the Swine flu, or H1N1, which already is affecting the greater Toronto area and which the vaccine is in short supply.
What do we make of all this? Do we completely despair and think that our lives are going downhill from here on in?
We can see from this past week’s Parsha, as well as in the following week’s Parsha, that everything is in the hands of Hashem, and in the long term, while we may need to do our own Hishtadlus, in the end, He orchestrates everything.
In this past week’s Parsha, we learn from the story of Akeidas Yitzchak. When Hashem told him to sacrifice his own son, Avraham had reservations.
Firstly, he was to kill his own son! Didn’t Hashem promise him that a great nation was to arise from Sarah? Sarah was already well over 120 years old! How was she to, in her aged state, have another child? Hashem already performed the miracle once, who was to say that He was going to do it again?
Secondly, in those days, where Paganism was king, many people sacrificed their own children. Now, Avraham, who was jailed for 10 years as a child and went to Nimrod’s fire due to his monotheistic beliefs, was going to do the one act that was completely antithetical to everything he believed in that was good and true. People who would see him perform this act, (and there probably were many since a) he was performing it on top of a mountain, and b) there was most likely smoke from the fire started, since sacrifices usually had fire involved,) would say, “Hey look at that hypocrite up there! What was it that he wanted me to believe in again?” Avraham reasoned that this was going to cause a regression in monotheism.
For these reasons Avraham actually questioned Hashem. Hashem replied to him, “Don’t ask questions, just do as I say.” That was truly one tough test!
As it turned out, the Akeidas Yitzchak, Yitchak very nearly getting killed, was necessary for Yitzchak to marry and have kids, writes R’ Chaim Vital in the name of the Ari”ZL. R’ Chaim explains that for whatever Hashem’s reasons, Yitzchak had the status of an Akara, a barren woman. In other words, Yitzchak was born with a Nekaiva Neshama (female soul), and therefore wasn’t able to have kids with his body! Now, what happened, according to Ari”ZL? When Avraham placed the knife on his sons’ neck, he actually performed a partial Shechitah. To perform a full Shechita, one needs to cut both the food pipe and the wind pipe of one’s neck. Avraham cut Yitzchak’s food pipe, but not his wind pipe. The sheer fright from the blood and the cutting caused Yitzchak’s Nekaiva Neshama to go up to Shamayim, where it was placed for three years. In place of that Neshama, a brand new Zachar Neshama went into his body. That moment, Rivka was supposedly born. The Neshama then went into Rivka’s body when she was three, and Yitzchak was therefore able to have children with her/him! So, we don’t always see the big picture. Hashem has his reasons for everything, yet Avraham still had to do his own hishtadlus in beginning to perform the sacrifice.
On a related note, the Malach took the knife from Avraham and had a ram revealed, to be used in Yitzchak’s place. I forgot who said this, but if I were Avraham, I would be relieved that I wouldn’t need to kill my own son! The real test here was in that Avraham wasn’t supposed to be happy that his son survived, rather that he couldn’t do Hashem’s will, and he therefore needed to be compensated with a ram! That’s an Avraham!
It then makes sense why in Parshas Chayei Sarah, Avraham then barely cried for Sarah after these events transpired, as Rashi explains why V’Livkosah has a small Kaf. Once he passed Hashem’s biggest test, caring more about Hashem’s will rather than his own personal life, he became desensitized to his personal life, and started to see “the big picture.” For better or worse, he came closer to Hashem, and while he cared very much for Sarah, his wife as well as his first cousin, he saw that in the grand scheme of things, this was necessary and life must go on. Therefore, as a man on a mission, he wasted no time in eulogizing her, and then afterwards mourned her passing.
We’ll also see in the coming weeks the episode of Yaakov, Leah, and Rachel with respect to the births of the Shvatim. Leah knew when she was pregnant with child number 7. She also had the Ruach HaKodesh that Yaakov was to have 12 boys, and that if she had 7 boys, and the two maidservants each had 2 boys, then the most Rachel could have was one boy, less than what the maidservants. Leah went to Hashem and told him that this wasn’t fair. He obliged and made the child a girl, whom they named Dina.
Dina, later on, went out and was raped by Shechem ben Chamor. Leah then asked Hashem, Zu Torah v’Zu Schorah? I gave up a Shevet, a huge thing, for my daughter to be raped by this *something else*?
Explains R’ Chaim Vital, Hashem indeed had bigger plans for Dina. When Dina was raped, she became pregnant, and gave birth to a girl. Nobody in the family wanted a child whose father was Shechem, a lowlife. So Yaakov created a Kameiah, an amulet with Kabbalistic Hebrew lettering, and placed it around Dina’s daughters’ neck. The angels took that child and placed her in Mitzrayim. When she was in Egypt, Potifars’ wife took the girl, adopted her, and named her Osnas.
Years later, when Yosef ended up in chains in Egypt, due to Potifars’ wife making advances on a good-looking guy like him, and then rising to power as second-in-command to the Pharaoh, it soon came time for him to get married. However, he had enough of a problem fighting off a shiksa like Potifar’s wife, now to get married to a shiksa was going to cause problems. What to do?
Now, it was an Egyptian custom that when a noble-boy of eligible age was to get married, (this is all R’ Chaim Vital, by the way, none of this is
made up), the person was paraded around the street and girls would throw their jewelry at him. The piece of jewelry that the boy would choose would determine the girl he was going to marry. Yosef looked at the pile and saw that there was a Kameiah with Hebrew letters, which belonged to Osnas. Yosef found himself a Jewish wife, married her, and had 2 children that were elevated to the status of Shvatim. So, in the grand scheme of things, Leah gave up one Shevet in exchange for two, as she was actually Efraim and Menashe’s grandmother.
Therefore, we should be strong enough to realize that there’s a master plan up ahead, and we’re all in it for the ride. Once we see that, we just might gain wisdom, as it says,”Aizehu chacham? Haroeh es hanolad.” Who is wise? He who can foresee the future (Tamid 32a).
Therefore, we all need to realize that as tough as “it is out there,” and as bad as things are, there’s a master plan. May we all be zoche to have this strength and foresight. Gut Shabbos.